Nov 22, 2014

Suspect arrested in socialite murder

Additional arrests possible?

Oxonians were shocked by the arrest of a popular local pharmacist in the October 30 murder of socialite Kelly Moran.

Lorraine Estrada, 39, was taken into custody yesterday at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department following an extended interview with the investigating detectives.

Yoknapatawpha County assistant district attorney Russell Moran discovered his wife's body when he returned home from work that Thursday evening in October. Initially, Kelly Moran was thought to have been the victim of a burglary gone wrong, but subsequent investigation cast doubt on that theory of the crime.

The case against Estrada includes both physical and testimonial evidence, according to Elizabeth Jones, information officer for the department. However, Jones declined to provide any details about what implicates Estrada in the death of her friend.

Jones also would not comment on Estrada's alleged motive but said investigators do believe they know what led to the killing.

DA's office "gratified"

At a brief press conference this morning announcing the arrest, assistant district attorney Calvin Dollarhide said, "This has been a difficult case not only for my colleague Russell Moran, who lost his beloved wife in such a brutal way, but for all of us in the Yoknapatawpha County law enforcement family. We are gratified that the sheriff's department has this cold-hearted killer in custody. Now the healing can begin for Kelly Moran's loved ones, friends and neighbors."

Dollarhide said Estrada will face charges for premeditated murder in the Moran killing and acknowledged that additional charges are possible.

Reached by phone, Russell Moran said he was thankful for the the support he's received from the community but declined to comment on the arrest.

Friends and acquaintances stunned

Pharmacist and murder suspect
Lorraine Estrada
Employees at the pharmacy where Estrada worked expressed surprise at her alleged involvement in a murder. "Lorraine is a wonderful, kind woman and an excellent pharmacist. She takes a personal interest in the well-being of all the pharmacy customers," said clerk Megan McDowell. "I can't believe she'd be involved in even hurting another person, much less killing someone."

By all accounts, Kelly Moran and her alleged killer, Lorraine Estrada, were close friends who socialized with each other regularly.

"They were here every week for karaoke," said a Rooster's Blues House employee who asked not to be named. "They were as thick as thieves, laughing and singing and having cocktails together week in and week out. I can't begin to guess what could've happened to make Lorraine do something like that."

"The sheriff's department usually does a good job, but this time I think they got it wrong," chimed in Rooster's patron Yvonne Boyd. "I saw Lorraine and Kelly here together all the time. There's no way Lorraine did what they say."

But not everyone believes in Estrada's innocence. "I know both of these women very well, and let me tell you something," said mutual friend Patricia Lee, "Lorraine's always been kind of a stick-in-the-mud, but Kelly was a rebel in her own way. I'm not at all surprised things finally came to a head between them."

"I am surprised that Lorraine's the one who came out on top though," Lee added. "Kelly must've made her really mad for that to happen."

Co-conspirators yet to be revealed?

A source close to the investigation told Crime Beat exclusively that detectives were also interrogating a second suspect at the same time as Estrada was being questioned before her arrest.

According to this source, it is possible that investigators are looking at one or more additional people who could have had some involvement in the murder of Kelly Moran.

When reached at the sheriff's department for comment, Jones said she would not comment on rumors but refused to confirm or deny the possibility of additional participants in the Moran murder.

A preliminary hearing for Lorraine Estrada is scheduled for November 24, 2014.
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Nov 11, 2014

Controversial conference idea rejected again

Academic Council not interested in exploring "imaginative history"

President Lincoln at the Antietam Civil War battlesite
For the third time in as many months, the University's Academic Council denied funding for Dr. Charles Lowry's controversial conference entitled "Reconstructing the Civil War: If the South Won…"

At a meeting Monday night in the Law Center, Dr. Lowry, professor of Civil War studies at Ole Miss, presented the third draft of his proposal for a four-day, university-sponsored conference that would attract scholars of American history and war to study the potential effects of the United States and the world had the Confederate army won the Civil War.

The Academic Council — comprised of a specially selected board, faculty members and a student panel — spent little time rejecting Lowry's proposal on the basis that it lacked intellectual merit.

"As I've said before, that claim is ridiculous," Lowry stated to a room of 45 delegates and nearly 50 supporters, skeptics and students. "There is a wealth of merit to be found in exploring the flipside of the coin. Why do we study scientific theories and hypotheses? Why are we interested in the Big Bang Theory or wormholes in outer space? Are we only to investigate that which we know to be true, that which is easy for us to understand?"

Council chairman Brett Matthews responded, "What you're proposing is an imaginative history, Dr. Lowry. I think I speak for everyone when I say that our university and the rest of the academic world would benefit far more by focusing on actual history, the sort which our ancestors fought and died to make a reality and which continues to affect our views today."

"I think the academic world would prefer you not use your lack of foresight and your rampant patriotic clich├ęs to decry progressive education," Lowry replied sharply.

After a call to order, Lowry was reprimanded for his behavior, and the proceedings continued in other matters.

After the meeting, the observers' opinions were divided.
[T]he University of Mississippi is not interested in propagating the idea that
the South should have
won the war.
Academic Council Chairman Brett Matthews

"I'm as true a Southerner as anybody, but some of the things Lowry wants to do are just plain crazy," said Trey Bradford, a junior political science major from Biloxi who was present at the meeting.

"Some of his ideas are quite intriguing," said Phillip Jenkins, professor of history. "I know I would be front and center for the re-enactment of the Battle of Shiloh, where Beauregard runs Grant out of town and the South blocks the Union advance on the Mississippi River."

Aside from the battle re-enactment, Lowry's conference proposes such lectures and panel discussions as "Hall of Southern Presidents: Imagining the Model for Strong Western Leadership," "Hog Jowls and Corn Whiskey: Hosting the 20th Century World Party" and "Civil Rites: The Evolution of Slavery."

Many noted scholars have already pledged their participation in the conference, which was scheduled for mid-July of next year.

"We have no doubt that Lowry could concoct an interesting conference. If you've read his books, you'll see he has many fantastic theories and ideas about the Civil War," said Matthews in a post-meeting interview.

"But it comes down to the fact that the University of Mississippi is not interested in propagating the idea that the South should have won the war or that the South's interests in the war are worthy of glamorization," Matthews continued. "We'll leave that to the numerous Confederate organizations and rednecks who won't let go of the South's loss."

Lowry, however, stands by his proposal.

"Obviously, Matthews and the rest of the so-called Academic Council have very little understanding of the Civil War and the Southern stance in that war," Lowry said in response. "But their reaction to my proposal is typical. People shun and denounce what they don't understand, even in a setting of higher learning such as this."

Added Lowry, "Part of my hope for this conference was to cure some of this misunderstanding about the Civil War and to explore how it affects us so many generations later."
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Nov 3, 2014

Do you know this person?

Neighbor's security camera captures potential witness in socialite slaying

The Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department has released a video of what could be a witness in the Kelly Moran homicide investigation.

The video, captured by a private security camera on St. Andrews Circle the night Oxford socialite Kelly Moran was found dead, shows a person walking not far from the Moran residence near the time Kelly Moran is believe to have died.

If you have any information about the person in the video, you're asked to contact the sheriff's department at

Neighborhood watch

The vigilant neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said he provided the video to the sheriff's department when he noticed it had been recorded the same night Mrs. Moran had died.

The neighbor lives adjacent to Lamar Park and said he had installed security cameras about 18 months ago after body parts were found in Lamar Park on May 30 and June 3, 2013.

Those body parts were later connected to the murder of Oscar Knight, whose severed thumb had been found at the Rebel Inn prior to the discovery of the body parts in Lamar Park.

Two suspects were arrested in that case in July 2013 and are currently awaiting trial.

High society murder?

Kelly Moran died on October 30. Her husband, assistant district attorney Russell Moran, reportedly found her body when he arrived home from work and called 911.

An autopsy found that Mrs. Moran died from an opiate overdose. The sheriff's department confirmed that Moran had been taking prescribed opiate painkillers for several years prior to her death to treat chronic pain from a car accident.

However, the coroner's report listed the manner of death as undetermined, which implies that the medical examiner is not convinced the death resulted from an accidental or suicidal overdose.

According to a source inside the coroner's office, evidence observed at the scene and at autopsy indicate that Kelly Moran's likely death resulted from outside forces.

Sheriff's department mum

The sheriff's spokesperson, Elizabeth Jones, said the department is pursuing several avenues of investigation in the case but would not comment on whether they have any suspects.
"The detectives have several promising leads, including this security video. If anyone has any information, we ask they they get in touch with us."

Jones said persons coming forward with information may remain anonymous.
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Nov 2, 2014

Correcting mistakes

In this edition: stylist sorrow… rose-colored regrets… and a Halloween treat for grown-ups

Greetings, peeps!

The View from the Behind the Chair is the only place you'll hear the things women only tell their hairdressers.
And in this chair?
In the first chair, a woman who deeply regrets going to one of the lesser salons makes up for her bad decision by letting slip that we can expect to see a glorious end-of-season sale at Talon Notch. Ladies, flex those ankles — it's nearly time to go shoe shopping!

And in this chair?
In the second chair, someone recently interviewed by the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department wonders whether she painted a rosier picture of her late gal pal than appropriate. As I told her, just because you shouldn't speak ill of your hair stylist doesn't mean you shouldn't fill in the gaps when talking to law enforcement. We are, after all, only human, and sometimes our bad behavior should serve as a warning to others. (Did I mention the woman who went to another hairdresser?)

And in this chair?
And in the third chair, the warm story of the Halloween angel. Apparently someone bringing their children around this past Halloween distributed splits of champagne to those handing out candy. (Only when the person was of legal drinking age, of course.) After learning where my client lived, I called a real estate agent and told her she had eleven months to find me a home in that neighborhood.

I'm just hearing, and I'm just saying.
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